The Fourth Department, reversing the Court of Claims, determined the state’s motion for summary judgment in this snow-plow traffic-accident case should not have been granted because there were questions of fact concerning whether the higher “reckless disregard” standard of care for snow plows was applicable. Although the “reckless disregard” standard may still apply where, as here, the snow plow is raised, the snow plow must be salting the road or otherwise “working its run” at the time of the accident:
Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1103 (b) “exempts from the rules of the road all vehicles, including [snowplows], which are ‘actually engaged in work on a highway’ . . . , and imposes on such vehicles a recklessness standard of care” … . The exemption “applies only when such work is in fact being performed at the time of the accident” … , which includes a snowplow engaged in plowing or salting a road … . Although the exemption does “not apply if the snowplow . . . [is] merely traveling from one route to another route” … , a snowplow may be “engaged in work even if the plow blade [is] up at the time of the accident and no salting [is] occurring” when the snowplow is nevertheless “working [its] ‘run’ or ‘beat’ at the time of the accident” … .
… [W]e conclude that the State failed to establish as a matter of law that the snowplow was “actually engaged in work on a highway” at the time of the accident (Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1103 [b] …). Lynch-Miller v State of New York, 2022 NY Slip Op 05640, Fourth Dept 10-7-22
Practice Point: Here the snow plow was raised when the traffic accident occurred. There were questions of fact about whether the snow plow was salting the road or otherwise working its run when at the time. Therefore, there were questions of fact about whether the higher “reckless disregard” standard of care for vehicles engaged in highway work applied.